Controlling Coronavirus Will Mean Keeping People Apart

China Has an App for That. The Rest of the World Needs a Plan

A coronavirus checkpoint in Dali, China, February 2020 Toby de Silva / Redux

In Hollywood, movie sequels are often weaker than the originals. For viruses, that logic does not always apply. The virus now named the “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2” by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses will have an impact that far exceeds the death toll and economic damage caused by the original SARS.

In late January and early February 2020, China embarked on the most drastic social-distancing measures ever seen, confining hundreds of millions of people to their homes. This approach has been successful in reducing the transmission of the “SARS 2” coronavirus to the extent that daily case numbers have declined throughout China in February.

Outside of China, however, such sweeping social controls will not be possible. The virus is spreading. As of this writing, nearly 30 countries worldwide have reported cases, and local transmission has been reported in new areas almost every day. A brief window of time remains for

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